Natural, simple, humble, meek love for God ~ Elder Thaddeus of Serbia

“He cannot move away from us, for He is life.  All of Him is love.  Oh, if we men could have the same love toward Him, and approach Him as our only true friend!  Alas, that is not how we come before Him.  Instead, we are reserved, we approach Him with formality.  When we pray, and when we do something good, we are altogether very formal. … He, in turn, wants us to be natural.  When He came to dwell among us, He showed us the way to live: simply, humbly and meekly.  We should approach Him just as He created us — as innocent children.” ~Elder Thaddeus of Serbia

Advertisements

Keeping the Commandments

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” ~ 1 John 2:3-6

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” ~ 1 John 3:21-22

Gratitude/Thanksgiving

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!” ~ Psalm 105:1

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” ~ Philippians 4:4

“We do not all receive blessings in the same way. Some, on receiving the fire of the Lord, that is, His word, put it into practice and so become softer of heart, like wax, while others through laziness become harder than clay and altogether stone-like.” ~ St. Peter of Damaskos.

“Since our nature is feeble, when you come to be like a beggar because of life’s distresses, if at some time you are exhausted and you wish to be encouraged, you have the one hundred and first psalm. And since it is appropriate for us to give thanks to God through and in all circumstances, when you wish to commend Him, for this you must urge your own soul forward, and say Psalms 102 and 103. (Septuagint numbering)”  ~ St. Athanasius the Great.

“You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.” ~ Psalm 65:11

Pride/Humility

“Blessed is he who humbles himself in all things, for he will be exalted in all. For a man who for God’s sake humble himself, and thinks meanly of himself, is glorified by God. The man who hungers and thirsts for God’s sake, God will make drunk with His good things. And he who goes naked for God’s sake is clad by Him in a robe of incorruption and glory. And he who becomes poor for His sake is consoled with His true riches.” ~ St. Isaac the Syrian.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6

“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” ~ Galatians 5:26

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12

“Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” ~ 1Peter 5:5

“I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, ‘What can get through from such snares?’ Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.'” ~ St. Anthony the Great

“A brother at Scetis was preparing to go to the harvest and he went to see an old man and said to him, ‘Tell me what I should do when I go harvesting.’ The old man said to him, ‘If I tell you, will you believe me?’ The brother said, ‘Yes I am listening to you.’ The old man said to him, ‘If you trust me, go and give up this harvesting, come here and I will tell you what to do.’ So the brother gave up harvesting and came to live with the old man. The old man said to him, ‘Go into your cell, spend fifty days eating dry bread and salt only once a day, and come back and I will tell you what else to do.’ The brother went away, did this, then came back to the old man. The old man, seeing that he was a worker, taught him how to live in the cell. The brother went away to his cell and prostrated himself to the ground, weeping before God. After this, when his thoughts said to him, ‘You are trained, you have become a great man’, he placed his sins before his eyes, saying, ‘And where are all my omissions?’ But when his thoughts in the opposite sense said to him, ‘You have committed many sins’, he in his turn replied, ‘Yet I say my few prayers to God, and I trust that God will have mercy on me.’ Being overcome, the evil spirits appeared to him openly saying, ‘We have been disturbed by you.’ He asked them why. They said to him, ‘When we exalt you, you run to humility; but when we humiliate you, then you rise up.'” ~ From the Desert Fathers

“An old man was asked, ‘What is humility?’ He replied, ‘It is when your brother sins against you and you forgive him before he comes to ask for forgiveness.‘ ” ~ From the Desert Fathers.

“We should grow neither too bold nor fall into despair, whatever happens to us, whether good or bad.” ~ St Peter of Damaskos.

Poverty/Riches

Children’s Fable:

Patristic quote complimenting children’s fable:

“For wealth hath indeed a cheerful mask, but its inward parts are full of gloom; and poverty the reverse. And shouldest thou unfold each man’s conscience, in the soul of the poor thou wilt see great security and freedom: but in that of the rich, confusions, disorders, tempests. And if thou grievest, seeing him rich, he too is vexed much more than thou when he beholds one richer than himself. And as thou fearest him, even so doth he another, and he hath no advantage over thee in this. But thou art vexed to see him in office, because thou art in a private station and one of the governed. Recollect however the day of his ceasing to hold office. And even before that day the tumults, the perils, the fatigues, the flatteries, the sleepless nights, and all the miseries.” ~ St. John Chrysostom

Scripture quotes:

“Nay, all things are vanity, every man living. Surely man walketh about like a phantom, nay, in vain doth he disquiet himself. He layeth up treasure, and knoweth not for whom he shall gather it. And now, what is my patient endurance? Is it not the Lord? Yea, my hope is from Thee.” ~ Psalm 38 (39): 5-10

“He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.” ~ Proverbs 11:28

“There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” ~ Proverbs 13:7

“For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” ~ Proverbs 27:24

 

“Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:

Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” ~ Proverbs 30:7-9


“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” ~ Matthew 6:19-20

“Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.” ~ Psalms 41:1

 

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” ~ Matthew 6:24-25

“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” ~ Mark 10:23-24

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” ~ 1Timothy 6:17

Additional patristic quotes:

“Since our nature is feeble, when you come to be like a beggar because of life’s distresses, if at some time you are exhausted and you wish to be encouraged, you have the one hundred and first psalm. And since it is appropriate for us to give thanks to God through and in all circumstances, when you wish to commend Him, for this you must urge your own soul forward, and say Psalms 102 and 103.” 

~ St. Athanasius the Great

Discontentment/Contentment

Children’s fable teaching about the vice of discontentment:

Patristic quote complimenting the Children’s Fable:

“And consider, beginning from beneath: the scavenger grieves and is vexed that he cannot be rid of this his business so wretched and esteemed so disgraceful: but if thou rid him of this, and cause him, with security, to have plenty of the necessaries of life, he will grieve again that he hath not more than he wants: and if thou grant him more, he will wish to double them again, and will therefore vex himself no less than before: and if thou grant him twofold or threefold, he will be out of heart again because he hath no part in the state: and if you provide him with this also, he will count himself wretched because he is not one of the highest officers of state. And when he hath obtained this honor, he will mourn that he is not a ruler; and when he shall be ruler, that it is not of a whole nation; and when of a whole nation, that it is not of many nations; and when of many nations, that it is not of all. When he becomes a deputy, he will vex himself again that he is not a king; and if a king, that he is not so alone; and if alone, that he is not also of barbarous nations; and if of barbarous nations, that he is not of the whole world even: and if of the whole world, why not likewise of another world? And so his course of thought going on without end does not suffer him ever to be pleased. Seest thou, how even if from being mean and poor thou shouldest make a man a king, thou dost not remove his dejection, without first correcting his turn of thought, enamored as it is of having more?” ~ St. John Chrysostom

Scripture Quotes:

“Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure with trouble.” ~ Proverbs 15:16

“You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:8-13

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Now that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:11-13

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:6-9

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” ~ Hebrews 13:5



Steadfastly Laboring for the Lord

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:5

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  ~ Galatians 6:9

Self-Denial/Renunciation and Bearing One’s Cross

“If we abandon our own desires and opinions, and endeavor to fulfill God’s wishes and understanding, we will save ourselves, no matter what our position, no matter what our circumstance. But if we cling to our own desires and opinions, neither position nor circumstance will be of help. Even in Paradise, Eve transgressed God’s commandment, and life with the Savior Himself brought the unfortunate Judas no good. As we read in the Holy Gospels, we require patience and an inclination to pious living.”

~ St. Amvrossy of Optina
[Counsels of the Venerable Elder St. Amvrossy of Optina]

 

Everyone bears his cross, and you bear your cross, even though it is only the size of a finger; you still bear it. The bearing of a cross is absolutely necessary for every Christian for his salvation, and not only for monks. Yes, everyone ears a cross, and has borne a cross; even the Incarnate God bore a cross, and His Cross was the heaviest, as if combining in itself all the crosses of mankind. And take note: God is carrying the cross and a man (Simon the Cyrenian) helps Him. He takes the cross from Him and carries it himself. This means that by bearing our crosses we help the Lord to carry the cross, i.e., we are preparing to be His servants in heaven in the choir of bodiless Spirites… . What a high calling! -St. Barsanuphius of Optina

We seek and desire sweet, spiritual enjoyment; I do not argue, it is pleasant—but it is lower than the cross. It is granted to us through the cross and without the cross it cannot last. It comes to us and leaves us according to the degree that we travel the way of the cross and humility. -St. Macarius of Optina

To bear the cross does not mean only visible, external sorrows, but also internal spiritual ones. One must endure darkness, faintheartedness and similar things as well. For God sends this for the destruction of our pride and acquiring of humility. -St. Macarius of Optina

It has been so arranged by the Lord God, that in His care for the salvation of our soul, each person in this life has a cross which he must humbly carry to our Heavenly Father from his childhood, calling to Him from the depth of his soul: “Our Father! May Thy Holy Will be done in all things, only do not deprive me of Thy Heavenly Kingdom. -St. Anthony of Optina

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. –Romans 12:2

By the world, “world,” we understand everything which is subject to the passions, which is far from God. Here we are fine. Glory to God! We live in the desert of the world—we can go to church, we can converse with like-minded people. Glory to God! -St. Nikon of Optina

Beware of passionate attachments to the world. Although they deceive you with peace and comfort, they are so fleeting that you do not notice how you are deprived of them, and in their place come sorrow, longing, despondency, and no comfort whatsoever-St. Leo of Optina

Having recognized the truly useless vanity of the world, you should flee from it and seek for yourself a way to fulfill the will of God. But as long as we serve the world, we do not see the darkness of the passions, darkening our thoughts. Being in such a state of blindness, we do not care that by pleasing the world we become violators of the Divine Commandments, and we think by making a few minor corrections we will become true Christians; but in this way, we greatly deceive ourselves, not studying the teachings of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ-St. Macarius of Optina

The man who is poor in spirit desires and says with his whole heart,Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.  It is as though he himself disappears; everywhere and in everything he wishes to see God–in himself and in others.  ‘Let everything by Thine, not mine.‘ -St. John of Krondstat

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. -1 John 2:17

We abandon ourselves, we renounce ourselves, when we escape from what we were in our old state, and strive toward what we are called to be in our new one. Let us see how Paul, who said `It is no longer I who live’ renounced himself: the cruel persecutor was destroyed and the holy preacher began to live. But how was Paul, who said that he was no longer living, able to proclaim the message of truth? Immediately after saying `It is no longer I who live,’; he added, `but Christ lives in me.’ He means that he had indeed been destroyed by himself, since he no longer lived unspiritually, but in his essential being he was not dead since he was spiritually alive in Christ. -St. Gregory the Great

The chief evil with relation to the body is love for the body and pitying it. This takes away all the soul’s authority over the body and makes the soul the slave of the body. And on the contrary, one who does not spare the body will not be disturbed in whatever he does by apprehensions born of blind love of life. How fortunate is one who is trained to this from childhood! -St Theophan the Recluse

… The holy Fathers relate that when the thief of the Gospel, too, came to the gates of the Kingdom, the Archangel with the flaming sword wanted to chase him away, but he showed him the Cross. Immediately the fire-bearing Archangel himself withdrew and permitted the thief to enter. Understand here not the wooden cross. But which? The Cross in which the chief Apostle Paul boasts and concerning which he writes, ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17). -St. Anatoly of Optina

Do not the angels differs from us in this respect, that they do not want so many things as we do? Therefore the less we need, the more we are on our way to them; the more we need, the more we sink down to this perishable life. St. John Chrysostom

But it is not enough for us to abandon our possessions if we do not abandon ourselves as well. What does it mean to abandon ourselves? If we abandon ourselves, where shall we go outside of ourselves? And who is it who departs, if a person has forsaken himself? But we are one thing when we have fallen into sin, and another in the nature with which we were created; what we did is one thing, what we have become is another. Let us abandon the selves we have made by sinning, and let us continue to be the selves we have become by grace. -St. Gregory the Great

If you wish to see the blessings which “God has prepared for those who love Him” (I COR 2:9), then take up your abode in the desert of the renunciation of your own will, and flee the world. What world? The world of the lust of the eyes, of your fallen self (I JN 2:16), the presumptuousness of your own thoughts, the deceit of things you can see. Niketas Stethatos

The first duty of a Christian, of a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, is to deny himself. To deny oneself means to give up one’s bad habits, to root out of the heart all that ties us to the world; not to cherish bad desires and thoughts; to quench and suppress bad thoughts; to avoid occasions of sin; not to do or desire anything from self-love but to do everything out of love for God. To deny oneself means, according to the Apostle Paul, to be dead to sin and the world, but alive to God. -St. Innocent of Alaska

The chef reason why so people attain to full Christian perfection is exactly their reluctance, through self-pity, to force themselves to deny themselves. -Bishop Theophan the Recluse

Then Jesus called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the Gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” -Mark 8:34-37

A man takes a little walk and sees something. His thoughts say to him, ‘Go over there and investigate’ and he says to his thoughts, ‘No! I won’t’ and he cuts off his desire. Again he finds someone gossiping and his thoughts say to him, ‘You go and have a word with them.’ and he cuts off his desire and does not speak. Or again his thoughts say to him, ‘Go and ask, the cook, what’s cooking?’ And he does not go but cuts off his desire. Then he sees something else and his thoughts say to him, ‘Go down and ask who brought it?’ And he does not ask. A man denying himself in this way comes little by little to form a habit of it so that from denying himself in little things he begins to deny himself in great without the least trouble. Finally he comes not to have any of these extraneous desires but whatever happens to him he is satisfied with it as if it were the very thing he wanted. -Abba Dorotheos of Gaza

If we mortify our desires, cut off harmful pleasures, and not only allow nothing to remain with us of this world’s goods but actually recognize that we are not our own masters, then we truly make our own the apostle’s words, ‘It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. -Abba Abraham

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. -Gal. 2:20

A man who gives way to his passions is like a man who is shot by an enemy, catches the arrow in his hands, and then plunges it into his own heart. A man who is resisting his passions is like a man who is shot by an enemy, and although the arrow hits him, it does not seriously wound him because he is wearing a breastplate. But the man who is uprooting his passions is like a man who is shot by an enemy, but who strikes the arrow and shatters it or turns it back into his enemies heart. -St. Dorotheos of Gaza

Detachment from the World

“But it is not enough for us to abandon our possessions if we do not abandon ourselves as well. What does it mean to abandon ourselves? If we abandon ourselves, where shall we go outside of ourselves? And who is it who departs, if a person has forsaken himself? But we are one thing when we have fallen into sin, and another in the nature with which we were created; what we did is one thing, what we have become is another. Let us abandon the selves we have made by sinning, and let us continue to be the selves we have become by grace.” -St. Gregory the Great

“And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” -1 John 2:17

“The man who is poor in spirit desires and says with his whole heart, Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. It is as though he himself disappears; everywhere and in everything he wishes to see God-in himself and in others. ‘Let everything by Thine, not mine.‘” -St. John of Krondstat

By the word, “world,” we understand everything which is subject to the passions, which is far from God. Here we are fine. Glory to God! We live in the desert of the world-we can go to church, we can converse with like-minded people. Glory to God!” -St. Nikon of Optina

“Beware of passionate attachments to the world. Although they deceive you with peace and comfort, they are so fleeting that you do not notice how you are deprived of them, and in their place come sorrow, longing, despondency, and no comfort whatsoever.” -St. Leo of Optina

“Having recognized the truly useless vanity of the world, you should flee from it and seek for yourself a way to fulfill the will of God. But as long as we serve the world, we do not see the darkness of the passions, darkening our thoughts. Being in such a state of blindness, we do not care that by pleasing the world we become violators of the Divine Commandments, and we think by making a few minor corrections we will become true Christians; but in this way, we greatly deceive ourselves, not studying the teachings of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” -St. Macarius of Optina

When a man seeks from a king a measure full of dung he will not only be despised by his despicable request, exposing thus his ignorance, but he also insults the king by his insipid demand. Such also is he who asks corporeal things from God.” -St. Isaac the Syrian

Thirst after Jesus. Then He will satisfy you with His love. Shut your eyes to the precious things of this world, then you will be deemed worthy of the peace given by God to reign in your heart. Restrain yourself from the allurements that are shining before your eyes, then you will be deemed worthy yourself to shine with spiritual joy.” -St. Isaac the Syrian

Attachment to outward things at once causes coldness towards God and the work of our salvation; coldness towards our neighbor, or hatred and envy toward him, if it depends upon him to give us things, and he does not do so, or if we are obliged to give things to him unwillingly. Therefore it is well to be perfectly indifferent to outward things, in order not to have any occasion for enmity towards our neighbor, which is a great sin. Be above all attachments to this perishable, vain fleeting world; live by your heart in heaven, and love incorruptible blessings prepared for those who love God and their neighbor.” -St. John of Kronstadt

That which a man loves, to that to which he turns, that he will find. If he loves earthly things, he will find earthly things, and these earthly things will abide in his heart, and will communicate earthliness to him; if he loves heavenly things he will find heavenly things, and they will abide in his heart, and will give him life. We must not set our hearts upon anything earthly, for the spirit of evil is incorporated in all earthly things when we use them immoderately and in excess.” -St. John of Kronstadt

“Do not the angels differs from us in this respect, that they do not want so many things as we do? Therefore the less we need, the more we are on our way to them; the more we need, the more we sink down to this perishable life.” -St. John Chrysostom

“If we mortify our desires, cut off harmful pleasures, and not only allow nothing to remain with us of this world’s goods but actually recognize that we are not our own masters, then we truly make our own the apostle’s words, ‘It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.‘” -Abba Abraham

Gossip and Slander

“A single good word made the thief pure and holy, despite all his previous crimes, and brought him into paradise (cf. Luke 23:42-43). A single ill-advised word prevented Moses from entering the promised land (cf. Num. 20:12). We should not suppose, then, that garrulity is only a minor disease. Lovers of slander and gossip shut themselves out of the kingdom of heaven.”

St. John of Karpathos.

« Older entries